Former editor of Australian Traveller, Healthy Food Guide, and associate editor of Marie Claire, Georgia Rickard, is now editor-at-large, Virgin Australia, and co-creator of ‘The Travel Bootcamp’ events. She is the quintessential earthy Gen Y as she discusses her entrepreneurial metamorphosis with writer, Meaghan Brown.
Intimate with the beauty and rigours of travel journalism, Georgia Rickard’s path crossed Lauren Bath’s, Australia’s first professional Instagrammer, in 2015. They quickly founded ‘The Travel Bootcamp’ event, pulling in Liz Carlson, international travel blogger… to complete them.
“I met Lauren (Bath) at The Australian Society of Travel Writers conference in Beijing, in 2015. Lauren had supplied a couple of images for Australian Traveller when I was editor there. I said to her, ‘I’ve got an idea!’
“I sent Lauren an email, and she replied, ‘Oh, I like that idea,’ says Georgia.
The Travel Bootcamp is a two and a half day event that educates participants about how to get paid to travel the globe writing, blogging and capturing magical images.
Georgia felt they needed a blogger, and Lauren thought she knew someone.
“There’s not a single big media atlas that Liz Carlson hasn’t been featured in. Liz sees opportunities in the world that neither Lauren or I do,” she credits.
“We had a cold call with Liz and six months later we met – the night before we held our first event together. That’s how our business rolls,” Georgia says.
A flash back to 2008 sees 22 year-old Georgia honing those very cold calling skills. She asks the ANZ bank general manager, ‘Why aren’t we working together?’ In her words, ‘Just a total upstart!’
After 12 months Georgia moved on to pursue her dreams of becoming a writer, and the noughties roll out with a few inevitable fluff and flounder career moves punctuated by some golden opportunities.
“It was a time of experimenting. I did some cool things and it was hugely informative, and yes, I did feel lost at times – when you’re failing… it stings, it really hurts!
“I’ve been most successful when I’ve had the flexibility and freedom to be very entrepreneurial. I’ve found that once you find your niche you attract all sorts of opportunities,” Georgia explains.
She was looking for her niche when ‘two fat blokes’ offered her a little independent magazine she could make her mark on, Australian Traveller.
“I fell in love with the role and started doing some controversial things like sending photographers to cover trips instead of journalists. Travel is emotional, images are critical,” she says.
During Georgia’s three-year tenure with Australian Traveller (2012 to 2015), they won ‘Niche Magazine of the Year’ and were shortlisted for ‘Magazine of the Year’ – which is hugely prestigious. Georgia was shortlisted for ‘Editor of the Year’ which put her, well and truly, on the map.
A quick payoff
Fast forward to one fine day June 2016, and it’s wrap up day of the first The Travel Bootcamp event, held in Sydney. As Georgia, Lauren and Liz drank in a standing ovation from the crowd, they knew something really special was going on – the alchemy had begun.
“We hadn’t even compared notes on our presentations and yet they seeded together so neatly, and even more amazingly we discovered our natural strengths intermingle perfectly. It felt serendipitous,” Georgia says.
Georgia’s extroverted, absolutely audacious, great on the sail personality, marries beautifully with Lauren’s innate COO temperament – fantastic with financials and executing rapid fire, combined with Liz’s incredible marketing acumen their table of contents is a magical mix.
“We are so different. If there were three points in the universe that were as far away as possible from each other, that’s us. We are three points of a triangle, it’s wild that it works,” Georgia enthuses.
With complimentary skill sets, a solid foundation and shared goals and values, to level up The Travel Bootcamp they’d simply have to lean in much further and go to a new place within their individual selves – which wasn’t on their wish or to-do list.
A choice and an investment
We started out thinking, ‘Yeah, let’s team up for this little one-off side hustle, then we’ll all get on with our lives. If it goes well, we’ll roll out a couple more,” she says.
However, their ‘side hustle’ became very successful and gained momentum. To progress it they’d have to really choose that journey (and each other), and invest into the business. This meant Georgia selling her apartment, and both Lauren and Liz putting in their savings.
Despite their alignments it transpired quickly that they’d all gone into business naively with two virtual strangers, which became problematic as tears flowed and blow ups tested them.
The ironic quirk was that the main challenge for these accomplished communication experts was their differing interpersonal communication styles.
Georgia’s modus operandi was lots of conversation, Lauren loved email and Liz had a passion for lists. Living in Sydney, Brisbane and New Zealand respectively the geography accentuated a disconnect that led to them working ineffectually, in separate silos.
“I definitely felt quite alone at times, and unsupported, and I know the others had the same experience at various times.
“We’re a mirror for each other’s issues and we’ve been forced by necessity to smooth out the parts of our personalities that can be quite spiky. We’re three very independent women, all millennial digital nomads, who work remotely, are travelling and calling our own shots. It’s a big gear change to come together and work as a team,” Georgia says.
To compound the challenges they were facing, Georgia experienced a personal breakdown two years in. It was extremely hard on all of them, but by breaking down she also broke open which meant significant personal growth. Then, as the domino effect came into play, witnessing Lauren go through something similar a while later, and finally Liz. They all had new perspectives.
The typical business parable we hear of business champions, doesn’t always speak to the struggles and failures along the way, but they happen and are an integral part of every successful business evolution. The problematic events and struggles may vary in nature, but they’re absolutely necessary for the individuals at their helm to level up and find the way forward.
Georgia says, “You need to consistently turn to each other and say, ‘I choose you, I choose this.”
“We engaged business consultants, ‘Passion.io’ based in Berlin, from January 2016. They worked with us on building very deliberate marketing and sales strategies. Earlier this year we engaged Kait Rich, based in Canada, who works with us on the big picture, our soft skills and our interactions with each other.
“One of Kait’s best initiatives is our ‘daily vitals’, we have a private Facebook group which is just us with Kait. Every single morning we must post a photo of ourselves and say what we’re working on that day, including self care and how we’re feeling.
“It’s very hard to hide from each other when you’re up close and personal, and it’s much harder to get frustrated. Kait’s been a fantastic investment, exorbitantly expensive, but a fantastic investment,” she explains.
Georgia, Lauren and Liz’s new communication routine includes; their daily vitals, weekly goals derived from their monthly live talk, a fortnightly com-call with their business coaches, and meeting face to face every six weeks with Kait, in different destination locations – of course!
“I’m not sure our business would be alive without the coaching support because even though there’s three of us, our contractors and our virtual assistant it’s still very easy to feel like you’re alone.
“Having structured support, external authority figures as mentors with skin in the game keeps us accountable to ourselves and each other. We can see our markers and track our goals so it’s profitable. It’s changed the game dramatically.
“You simply must support the mobile model, ” Georgia says.
The new business story
These Gen Y digital nomads prioritise wellness, work-life balance, and getting out and enjoying themselves as essential and integral goals they want out of their business.
“We love each other; we laugh, we cry, we drink wine, we love spending time together. We’re each other’s support system and we’re willing to grow together – and you need to do that.
“Who we are as people is intrinsically linked to how the business operates and what the culture is. Business is personal for us, and so is the journey. When we’re on fire the business is on fire,” she says.
Georgia’s attitude reflects the widely acknowledged idiom of contemporary business coaches, that a business will only grow to the personal development level of its owner-operator/s.
She continues,“We’ve assessed what our priorities are. We’ve looked at each other and we want this business, The Travel Bootcamp, to be…
“Something greater than us because every time we have an event something magic happens. People cry, there’s standing ovations, it’s very emotional and there’s definitely something very special about what happens at those events.”
Anyone who’s experienced a like personal metamorphosis knows it’s tough; it requires grit, generosity, bravery and a willingness to embrace the unknown, all whilst undergoing massive internal shifts.
From the cheap seats it seems the courage and bravery to go there by a factor of three, alone, deserves a standing ovation.
“My life purpose is to move people, to touch them and to inspire them, wake them up. To do that I need big money and I can’t do that working for someone else.
“Anything is possible in the entrepreneurial space where you make your own rules and you’re only limited by your own limitations, and that’s so exciting.
“It’s your own perfectly tailored personal development course. I love it and hate it in equal measure because it scares and terrifies me. This is a space where all your flaws and short-comings show up, close up, in very rude and annoying ways, and can’t be avoided,” she says.
The alchemy of entrepreneurship has fortified Georgia Rickards capabilities and revealed her best self. It’s forced her to become who she needs, and wants, to be in the world; and really – it doesn’t get any better than that.
“Entrepreneurialism forces you to be better. It’s incredibly hard and it takes balls. Journalism is storytelling, but I don’t think there’s anything more powerful than living the story,” Georgia finishes.
The Travel Bootcamp is an annual event, so far it’s been held in Sydney, Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Queenstown, New Zealand. This year The Travel Bootcamp happens from October 4 – 6, 2019 – Queenstown, New Zealand – www.thetravelbootcamp.com
Alchemy /’alkimi/ Dictionary definition
The medieval forerunner of chemistry, concerned with the transmutation of matter, in particular with attempts to convert base metals into gold or find a universal elixir.
Synonyms: chemistry; magic, sorcery, witchcraft, enchantment. ________________________________________________________________________